By on September 12, 2017

1958 Chevrolet continental kit, Image: hstowe/Bigstock

So, yesterday afternoon TTAC author and moderator Corey Lewis decided to scorch our retinas by posting a photo of a very unique Mazda Miata on Slack. A very bad Miata, too.

The image originated from quaint Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, a northern bedroom community of Montreal. In it (photo rights require us to paint you a grim picture), the red NA Miata sported a laundry list of aftermarket add-ons — accessories the owner no doubt felt made his or her Miata the gosh darn hottest Miata around. Like New York’s hottest club, this thing had it all. Fender skirts. Chrome luggage rack. Chrome wheel arch trim. Oh, and a completely nonfunctional continental kit, as all continental kits are these days.

It was a crime against Miatas.

Which leads to the question: what non-factory add-on isn’t a crime?

Once upon a time, buyers could check a box and have their Detroit iron roll out of the factory with a tastefully concealed spare tire slung over the rear bumper. Rear fender skirts were sometimes part of the deal. The list of made-to-order accessories was long, and Americans liked it that way

Not so anymore. Generally, if you’re looking to jazz up your ride (be it new or used), the aftermarket world is your friend. However, it’s very often not your car’s friend.

We’ve all seen that late-90s Crown Vic with a wing. The Accord sporting cheap Altezza-style taillights. The Camry with the non-functional hood scoop. The Civic with… well, you name it. Flimsy body kits for everyone! Unfortunately, inherently pure vehicles like the Miata are often sullied with such bolt-on debris, turning their owners into casually loathed pariahs (at least among respectable people).

Still, not every appearance accessory deserves such scorn. It’s possible to keep your dignity and sense of taste intact while still endowing your preferred ride with a unique styling touch. Does a Miata rear deck cover fit this bill? Light bar on a Ram pickup? Let the jury convene.

Sound off in the comments, Best and Brightest. What can an owner of a new or classic car get away with? While we’re on the subject, what vehicular add-on is simply unforgivable?

[Image: hstowe/Bigstock]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

101 Comments on “QOTD: What Aftermarket Appearance Part Can You Get Away With?...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    Badgeless grilles — some are better than others, but they’re all okay in my book.

    Also, stick-on porthole vents and some chrome fender decals denoting the size of your rims.

    Okay, maybe jut the first one.

  • avatar
    Dilrod

    I used to spend a lot of time browsing the JC Whitney catalog in the 80s. I never had much money to spend on my car, but I always thought someone could go whole hog with all the chrome kits they used to sell: illuminated hood ornaments, ghastly hub caps, fender trim…

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Especially for VWs. The options were endless, some of which I actually added to my Beetle, like replacement wooden knobs for the radio and those chrome side window visors. I would have loved to get the hood and trunk lid replacements that made a Beetle into a Morris Minor look-alike, but the Rolls hood was just too stupid.

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    Tasteful rims. Not super oversized ones with rubber band tires, but ones that compliment the vehicle. I know, this is subjective. Teddy-bear rims from the ’90s need not apply.

    Vent-visors are good too. They are functional for sure.

    As for the worst, those fender flares on trucks, where the owner has not added wider tires. They look like duallys that lost their outside wheels.

  • avatar
    1998S90

    Window tinting. And trunk spoilers. Not a big wing or anything, just the conservative little lip-type spoiler.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    My tolerance for aftermarket appearance stuff is fairly low.

    My Miata came with a so-called “style bar,” which is a fake roll bar, and took a fair bit of effort to remove. A real roll bar has a functional purpose and looks cool to me. The fake equivalent just makes it harder to raise and lower the top, adds weight, and gives your head something substantial to hit in a rear-ender, but will fold over like a mouse trap in the event of a rollover. To continue with the mouse imagery, I found it cheesy. The Borla dual outlet muffler looked kind of cool, but the sound was too loud for the meager power a stock-engined Miata makes. It had to go, too, but not as badly as the honking aftermarket intake. The aftermarket grille in front of the radiator opening isn’t my kind of thing, but it’s barely visible and theoretically protects the exposed radiator behind it, so I left it. I’ve also left the chromed gas flap (partly because I’m not sure that the stock one still works properly), but wouldn’t install it if it weren’t already there. The cheesy aftermarket shift knob was removed almost immediately. It looked cheap, and the weighted factory one shifts nicer. I also let the home-made red paint job on the calipers flake off once subjected to the heat of a few track days. In case anyone is wondering, these modifications were all performed by the 60 year-old gentleman I bought the car from.

    The tasteful aftermarket 15″ wheels stayed, and I replaced the worn shocks with a higher-performance suspension which lowered the car about an inch. It’s subtle enough not to be obviously-lowered, but looks more “right” if it’s sitting next to a stock-height car. From a low angle you can just barely see the stainless steel bracing I added under the car, and that pleases me.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      A friend of mine owned an NB Miata, and added a black grille in front of the air intake, due to known incidents where rocks thrown up off of the road punctured the a/c condenser.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    I really like the V8 badge I pried off a T-bird in the junkyard and applied to the back of my 1800lb Honda Insight with a 1L 3-cylinder.

    More than a few people asked if it really has a V8.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I have a “Brougham” emblem bought off ebay on the dash of my Focus. Since it’s inside, I have a tint, and rarely have passengers, it’s a private giggle to myself.

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    Upgrading Halogen headlamps to LEDs. They can actually make a vehicle look better and they are more useful.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Find out what your state laws are before you try this, and also think about whether or not you want to get harassed when you visit other states if it is legal where you live. DOT numbers on the lights you install are just a starting point when it comes to this particular change, at least in Virginia.

      • 0 avatar
        Sgt Beavis

        I think you misunderstood. I didn’t add LED lights. I replaced the existing halogens headlight bulbs with LEDs.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          Don’t mess with headlights, it will just end up blinding your fellow motorists.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          I did not misunderstand. Changing original equipment lights creates far more headaches for car owners come inspection time in Virginia than just adding auxiliary lights, which can merely be covered to get a pass. Aftermarket headlights? You’re going to need to reinstall the originals with the legal bulbs they used when new. The same goes for any lenses that don’t have DOT numbers and the right tint and reflective properties.

        • 0 avatar
          mikefitzvw

          That’s like, a thousand times worse. Your housings were intended to properly direct light from a halogen filament.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    This thread is useless without pictures!

    /miata

  • avatar
    Eggshen2013

    Curb Feelers.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Given today’s low-profile tires and expensive alloy wheels, it not be a bad idea. If they could be black anodized, they wouldn’t be so obvious.

    • 0 avatar
      doublechili

      My choice too, but only if the car also has whitewall tires and spoke wired hubcaps.

      • 0 avatar
        CobraJet

        Ha, that brings back memories. I installed curb feelers on my 66 Mercury Comet back in the 70’s. I was dating my wife and always had to park out front on the street when I went to pick her up. I got tired of scraping my whitewalls on the curb. My friends kidded me about them back then. I may have even ordered them from J C Whitney, come to think of it.

  • avatar
    kefkafloyd

    A list (by no means exhaustive) of good and bad car addons.

    Good:

    * An appropriate level of window tint. Keeps your car cool and works the AC less.

    * OEM Vent visors for windows and blugflectors for trucks. Very rarely do these look ugly and are generally functional.

    * Pony car racing stripes of an accenting color. As long as the stripes themselves aren’t ugly and are applied properly, a good accent color always looks great on a Camaro, Challenger, or Mustang.

    * Body-matched tonneau covers or caps on trucks. Functional and stylish. While we’re at it, I also prefer tubular running boards to flat ones, but that’s a personal preference.

    * Painted brake calipers on appropriate cars. These look dumb on minivans or SUVs, of course, but red or gloss black calipers are an easy way to add style.

    * Rocker panel extensions. Tastefully designed rocker panel extensions make most sedans and hatchbacks look nicer. The squared off look is often better than the rounded one. Tasteful ones don’t need other ground effects packages.

    * Custom spare tire covers on Jeeps. And we’re talking real custom ones here, like the person I saw with NH plates -TINK- with a Tinkerbell airbrushed on the cover. You do you.

    * Vanity license plates or your state’s reserved low plate numbers. Tested and true.

    * Shift knobs. I’ve never had a problem with someone having like, a skull or an eight ball or even a T-handle.

    Bad:

    * Offset front license plates. These are the #1 signal that you’re probably a terrible driver with an overinflated opinion of yourself. Get a hide-away plate instead.

    * Taillight blackouts. All they do is make your taillights work less unless you’ve put in brighter bulbs.

    * Louvered hatch glass covers. You’re only allowed to have these if you have a third-gen F-body or a Porsche 944. Any other car doesn’t work.

    * Aftermarket HID headlights. Only do this if you get a new housing, otherwise you’re an ass.

    * Add-on lighting and fiber optics. Generally tasteless and very rarely does it obey laws.

    * Giant wings. Again, you’re not fooling anybody, and you’re probably making your aero worse unless you’ve done appropriate benchmark tests.

    * Cliche spare tire covers on Jeeps. You’re not the first one to get the upside down Jeep, or the one with dog paws instead of e’s.

    * Angry eyes on Neons.

    * Winga-dinga resto-mod stuff on classic cars. The “keep it period” crew seems to be coming back, so that stuff is starting to fade away, but nothing makes me sadder than seeing an old GTO that someone’s painted a non-factory color with garish modern wheels and all the badging stripped off.

    * Landau roofs. Only factory ones are acceptable and even then those tend to be ugly. Cadillac Fleetwoods and Lincoln Town Cars get a pass.

    * Shift boots on automatic shifters. Again, you’re not fooling anyone.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Louvers are also good on cars like Datsun B-210 hatchbacks (my old GF’s car had one), Mustang flatbacks, Gen 1 and 2 Celica Liftbacks, the Datsun 240/260/280Z, and probably some other ’70s and ’80s cars.

      • 0 avatar
        kefkafloyd

        If your car came from the factory (either standard or with options) of the louvered hatch, you get a pass. But I’ve seen people try to put louvers on cars that have no business with them.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      I think resto mod is ok on the ‘regular’ stuff- ie, if you got your hands on a 70 Charger, but it came with a 318- then go to town.

      • 0 avatar
        kefkafloyd

        It’s one thing to hot-rod a car. Drop a bigger engine, restore the interior, go to town. But part of the appeal of those cars is the period they were in. I would not approve of someone taking that 70 charger and putting in, say, an LS. Get a crate Mopar instead. But what I’m generally talking about is poor exterior and interior modifications that eradicate the soul of the classic car.

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      Ok wow, color me impressed. You HAD to have pre-written that for just this question, yes? If that post was written ad hoc with bullet points your attention to these details is amazingly thorough. Extra points for mentioning both positive and negative accessories.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I agree with tinted tail lamps, it might as well scream “I want you to run into my car because you can’t see my tail lights”.

      I also concur with the rest of your list.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      @kefkafloyd, “Landau roofs. Cadillac Fleetwoods and Lincoln Town Cars get a pass.”

      Come’on man……Cordoba’s looked awful without a landau top.

      • 0 avatar
        kefkafloyd

        Note that I am talking about aftermarket roofs (and yes, they are out there for cars that you wouldn’t think would have them), so the Cordoba is fine. If your car came with one or it was a factory option, it gets a pass (as per the earlier comment about louvered hatches). Adding aftermarket roofs to cars that could have had them in the first place (e.g. late model fleetwoods or town cars) is OK… as long as the colors match.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    I’m pretty much OK with anything that really does something. So no buick portholes or anything that just sticks on with double sided tape. I’m ok on wings, splitters, whatever as long as they actually work. I’m meh on bro-trucks but I’d rather have flares keeping some of the rocks from spraying than having the tire stick out 4 inches spraying everyone. A well done built truck like an AEV is pretty awesome though.

    Graphics (or ‘gr4fx’) are a mixed bag and rarely done well, so don’t do it unless you really have a plan and have thought it through. Particularly on muscle cars- muscle cars are basically right on the edge between cool and tacky so choose wisely.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Good: hood struts.
    Bad: hood clips.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Repeater lights (on the front fenders). I added a set of amber Saab repeaters to my ’95 F-150, and they kept people from running into me when changing lanes.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Mud guards or flaps as long as they are black and decently match the contours of the vehicle. I do think it helps protect the rocker panels a little bit and every little bit helps. I put them on all of my vehicles if the dealer didn’t install the “exterior protection package” or whatever it is called while the vehicle was on their lot.

    On the rear wheel wells my old F150 I did find some NOS mud flaps from either the late 70s or early 80s that say “FORD” in block letters with a very Tron-esque vibe to it (blue and white).

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      https://goo.gl/images/385meV

      Bro what do you have against my sick JDM JAOS mudflaps?!

      I used to see these “rally style” oversized mudflaps on just about any every flavor of 4wd/AWD crossover, SUV, and van that came over from Japan. Usually yellow or red. Subaru guys in the US started doing it a few years ago too.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      Mud flaps are fine as long as they have Yosemite Sam pointing his six-guns and the caption “Back Off!”

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        My Dear Ol’ Dad always had to have mud flaps that had the brand or model name on them. His Cutlass had black mud flaps with chrome script “Oldsmobile” on them, his Bonnie had “PONTIAC” in the brand’s font on the flaps…

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    All kinds of things fall under the ‘good’ category. It would almost be easier to ask what is not acceptable.
    Window tint being the **one** item I must have on a car or truck, I loath clear windows on a car.

    I find that most pick up trucks are like HD motorcycles, they are rarely stock more than 2 days after leaving the dealership.
    bedliner, tool box, toneau cover, cap, step bars, ladder rack, hitch, lift, wheels & tires, mud flaps.

    Oh, and I must call BS on Kefkafloyd..resto-mod the the you know what out of your classic. A 70′ LeMans did not drive that well to start with; but a 70′ LeMans with a GTO front fascia, LS power, Disc Brakes, 4L60e or Tremec, seat belts, nice wheels, non-bias ply tires just looks awesome and drives great. But, hey each to their own. You can dump your cash into a depreciating turd like a 6 series M sport BMW or you can create your own one of a kind piece that you tailored to your wants/desires/budget. I know which guy I would rather talk to at cars n’ coffee.

    • 0 avatar
      kefkafloyd

      To clarify, I’m mot saying modding a classic car is bad. I’m saying that making it UGLY is bad. :)

      Go ahead and take that LeMans and soup it up. Put in the GTO engine (or a crate LS), put on the front clip, put on the new brakes, 4L60E (with the PWM fix, hopefully), nice new tires, etc. That’s all cool. Just don’t make it ugly. What I’m talking about is stuff like a garish custom paint job, or 22 inch monster wheels, or ridiculous bodykits.

      Even then I’ve seen some of the outlandish stuff work, but it has to have purpose and direction.

      Just don’t put a red interior into a white car. I’ll never forgive that.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        Red Interior in a white car is beautiful. My Dad had a new 1963 Buick Wildcat, white with a red buckets, carpets, dash and headliner…..was beautiful. My wife’s Chrysler 300 in Ivory Tricoat would be fabulous with a red leather interior instead of black.

        • 0 avatar
          kefkafloyd

          We will have to agree to disagree. It is the one automotive color combination I can’t forgive. Now, if it’s not a monotone red, if it has white accents, that helps out.

          I suppose there is a distinction between a bright red and a dark maroon (the latter of which I find more obnoxious), but I’m used to 80s LeBarons and Cieras that had that combination and none of them looked good in it.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    E&G! E&G! E&G!

  • avatar

    Now, Steph can’t show you the photo because of permissions – and I can’t find it on Facebook again. But I found a different photo of the same car, so here.

    http://photobucket.com/gallery/user/francisnh/media/cGF0aDplbGRvSy9lbGRvSzAwMS9lbGRvSzAwMTAwMS9taWF0YS1wYWlyLTAwOS5qcGc=/?ref=

    BLEH

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    A roof mounted radio antenna gives you best reception once it’s sized for the frequency you’re using.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Worst: fake blue tinted HID headlights
    RUnner Up: any riced out Honda Civic sporting an over sized wing along with a big fart can muffler.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      You also forgot “stanced” in that descriptor. Actually that rates top place in the worst category. Nothing like a car rendered nearly unusable by eliminating practically every bit of suspension travel and running dangerously acute camber in conjunction with rims too wide for the tires on a car dragging on the ground in some cases grinding fasteners off the body that are necessary for keeping chassis components attached.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Molded hood deflector on an appropriate vehicle. Looks weird on a Civic, works well on a truck SUV.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    I will admit this topic was on my mind recently, as my town’s main thoroughfare is super-clogged on football nights. The ‘burb exists only to support one of those giant postmodern High Schools and it’s football organization. It has also NOT synched it’s stoplights in some sort of protest or deliberate sadism. Therefore, whether you like or hate a car in traffic you have time to ponder your decision.

    This particular car was a 2006 or so Charger R/T in black. It really was an R/T, as it had the pipes and the rumble. The rest of the car showed none of the restraint intended by Dodge.

    It’s “C-stripes” on the side were in hot pink, and there was a matching hot pink “lips” decal jauntily placed on the right of the rear window, and a matching hot pink CHARGER sticker I could see through the windshield. There were hot pink details on the wheels, and a fuzzy hot pink steering wheel cover. There was also, as you would imagine, a graduation tassel in gold on the mirror.

    Who was the pilot? Female, tanned to well done. Black straight hair, huge sunglasses, all black attire, and phone glued to the steering wheel as she texted. Age and ethnicity impossible to determine, but I got the feeling career pointed to stylist?

    The texting alone should have driven me insane, but the diversion from massive trucks and metal-colored Lexii that I’m normally stuck between was actually, dare I say, amusing? Pleasant? I was disappointed when she finally turned left. She was such an individual that it was weirdly hot…

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Sounds like the kind of young lady who would say: “Yeah Mister, I’m into older guys, or rather older guys have been into me.”

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The non-synched traffic signals might be for good reason.

      One large urban neighborhood synched all its signals for the afternoon rush, piling a mess of cars onto a freeway on-ramp. That clogged the right lane on the freeway, forced lane chances, and caused a few accidents, so the highway department metered the ramp, causing a two or three block backup on the synched road that obstructed cross traffic.

      A secondary effect of synching the signals was faster speeds and many speeding tickets, and in addition, the merchants on that 10 block stretch noticed a drop in business.

      The merchants’ association, the police, and the highway department convinced the neighborhood to de-synch that stretch of road. The side effects were worse than the “cure”.

  • avatar
    raph

    Shift knob echoing the paint scheme on the car. Admittedly I could do without the cobra logos on the side and a little more heft to the knob itself ( the factory knob is pretty heavy and reduces shift effort ).

    >>http://www.cjponyparts.com/shift-knob-2-1-8-rally-with-shift-pattern-6-speed-and-cobra-logos-gt350-gt350r-2015-2017/p/MSK411-V/<&lt;

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Speaking of some of my GT350 chums in the bad category – adding the GT350R wing and neglecting to add the GT350R front splitter and conversely adding the splitter without the wing. It has a detrimental effect on the car at speed since both are required to properly balance aero.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    Moving to southwest Florida soon. Need an aftermarket snorkel for a sedan. Ready to use a hole saw on the fender.

  • avatar
    earthwateruser

    Shift knobs, coco-mats, window tint and (my favorite) nice stainless steel license plate screws that don’t rust.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Adding an SRT badge to your Acura, because nothing adds value like suggesting it is an overpowered, unreliable dodge.

    And at the risk of being pedantic, there is no degrees of uniqueness – “very unique”. Something is either unique or it is not.

  • avatar
    mikey

    For me?..I’m not, nor have ever been ,a fan of non factory add ons..

    Possibly, tastefully done custom wheels ? Key word “tastefully” ..I bought the matching OEM alloys for my winter tires. Horribly expensive, but I like the look…Let me include “Weather Tech” mats as acceptable in the winter months only.

    Just IMHO.

  • avatar
    christophervalle

    Ladies and gentlemen, I present, the Thunder Chicken.

    https://www.facebook.com/pg/Dick-Weaselmann-Used-Cars-166922603341255/photos/?tab=album&album_id=649424105091100

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Good (and most have been mentioned): window tint, vent visors, tasteful lip spoiler, a small manufacturers emblem (sticker) on the rear 1/4 window of a car (like a Chevy bowtie or a Ford oval for example), bug guard on a pickup or SUV (they rarely look good on a car), small fender badge denoting engine size (like “V-8” or “3.5L”, bonus points if its a factory-style badge), clear side marker/signal/etc lights with appropriate colored bulbs to remain in compliance with law, tasteful aftermarket wheels (or factory from another model like EX alloys on your Accord LX), I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

    What I dislike, and yes many have been mentioned already, would be add-on ventiports on a freakin’ Explorer or Corolla (WTF? Never got this), fake hood pins, solid black wheels, excessive chrome like fender arches etc, Continental kit on pretty much anything (never liked them, they just look so heavy and ungainly), big wings, gaudy body kits, super wide wheels (“stanced” included), “slammed” cars (excessive lowering), racing stripes (I can tolerate them on a pony or sports car, maybe, but your Cavalier sedan doesn’t count), big banner signs (like NO FEAR or other distasteful crap), big visors over the windshield. And there is much more I’m sure.

    About restomods, I don’t have a problem with it on principle. As far as destroying a classic, well, chances are that “classic” was rotting in a field before someone came along and breathed new life into it. Would I approve of hacking up an actual GTO, ‘Cuda or something like that? Well, no, but it doesn’t bother me if you go nuts on what was a rusty old Plymouth Satellite or Ford Galaxie.

    I will say I prefer it when you “keep it in the family”. If you want to build a car and put a Chevy 350 or LS engine in it, find a damn GM car and do it. Don’t put your Chevy engine in a Ford, or anything else but a GM product (also, if its an Olds, put a Rocket in it or GTFO). It makes no sense. There is nothing quicker to get me to become disinterested than building a Mopar or Ford product with a GM powertrain.

    I get that its cheaper to build a Chevy small block, but if cheap is all you’re concerned with, why spend $10k on a paint job? Or the same on a custom interior? You didn’t go with cheap options there, so why is “its cheaper!” a proper justification for what you put under the hood? Again, if you like the Chevy/GM engine, find a GM car to put it in. There are plenty of them out there.

    My Taurus has clear side markers and alloys from a later car (04-7). I don’t plan to stop there, but it will be tasteful, rest assured. I will not try to make it look like an SHO, I won’t add any ventiports, fake hood pins, chrome everywhere, a “GT” or “V-8” badge, or a big wing. I’d sooner set fire to it and watch it burn.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      If you don’t appreciate a SBC in things like an old Jag sedan, a Miata, or a 996 Porsche (the ones that occasionally lunch IMS bearings and require a new factory engine which costs more than the car is worth), I fear you might be a communist.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        That is different. You can’t find a Mazda V-8 to put in your Miata, the old Jag/Porsche would be in a junkyard with a dead engine otherwise, so that’s forgivable.

        Spending fiftyleven million bucks building a sweet custom Model A Ford, and sticking a Chevy engine in it, is against my religion. Same with a custom old pickup or other iron. That’s what I’m getting at. Ford Motor Company has made many, many V-8 engines in their 114 year history, the potential is there to build one just like you would a SBC. As cheap? Maybe not. But anything worth doing is worth doing right.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      JohnTaurus, I disagree with “keep it in the family”. I’d rather see someone mount the relatively compact pushrod GM LS engine under the hood than use a cutting torch to make relatively wide Ford Coyote OHC engines fit.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Well, luckily Ford made other V-8 engines.

        But, its your right to disagree, and I respect that.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Not only easier to fit, but many more parts and aftermarket support. It’s not just about cheaper, but easier to make work. If a person chooses to put an LS powertrain in their off brand car because it gets the vehicle they’re passionate about on the road sooner and more often, I support that.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          I don’t buy that. This isn’t 1987, we have the internet and if you can think of it, chances are you can find it.

          I have actually found aftermarket support for the lowly Ford Vulcan V-6, as in stroker kits, supercharger adaptor packages (FWD or RWD), cams, roller lifters, you name it.

          You can’t tell me there is nothing out there for non-GM engines, or that its not doable if someone had the inclination.

          It always comes back to cheaper and/or easier. Its also cheaper and easier to rattle can your car rather than have it professionally painted, but nobody goes that route when building a full-on custom that’s destined for the car show circuit or Barrett Jackson.

          I’m not saying that spending money on an LS drivetrain is akin to a Krylon paint job, just that it is possible to keep it Mopar or Ford or whatever in many cases, yet people justify not doing so by citing cost more often than not. There are many other ways to cut costs, save time, and make it easier, but most would never consider doing so.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            You clearly don’t build many hot rods.

            The support for GM LS engines in the aftermarket is far larger and wider than say the Gen III Hemi or Ford modulars. Far more parts support, far more swap parts/kits, far more tuning expertise and support, far more actual engines to pull from with far more compatibility. GM LS engines are like legos with the ability to mix and match cylinder heads, intake manifolds, crankshafts, camshafts, etc. between engine displacements and many years. Hot rodders can make whatever they like out of them.

            This just isn’t the case to anywhere close to the same degree with modern Ford or Mopar V8s. It doesn’t even compare. I think the modern Hemi is a better engine than the LS, but swapping them on a budget requires a lot more thought and expense, at least until recently with the advent of affordable Mopar supported swap kits. Even then, transmission options require more forethought than GM options.

            Swapping an LS in a fox body or earlier Mustang is no more mechanically different than swapping in a modular Ford, so the only reason to “stick Ford” is radical puritanism.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Brush guards on SUVs and Pickups. They look rugged and are highly functional.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Agreed, but looks horrible on a 2wd SUV. Well, a 2wd SUV is silly to me anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        I have a 2WD SUV. We needed to seat more than 5 and/or tow more than 6000#. When we bought it we lived where there was no snow and it did fine in the soft road country where we used it. Now that I live back in the upper midwest I still don’t miss the 4WD. It gets around just fine with Blizzaks on those 1 day a year when the snow is that bad.

        It drives and rides better than a full size van and gets better mileage than if it were 4WD. Why is it silly? It was needed for its utility, not its off road prowess. If I needed that I would have gotten a Wrangler Unlimited.

  • avatar
    George B

    I like tasteful use of attractive stock wheels from another vehicle. Means that someone somewhere bought aftermarket wheels and sold the OEM ones and the used wheel buyer saw their potential for a new application. Done right, they can look like the wheels the OEM should have installed at the factory.

    Window tint, installed correctly, almost always looks better than stock. Too bad manufacturers can’t just put Southern levels of tint permanently into the glass.

    Minor changes in vehicle height can look a lot better than stock, but moderation is key. There are lots of examples where the owners ruin the proportions with a change too extreme.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      100% with you on all of that.

      I have 04-07 Taurus alloys on my 1995. I do plan to go with 2013+ Fusion alloys at some point.

      I put 1999 Taurus SE alloys on my 1993, 2002ish Explorer XLS wheels on my 1996 Aerostar, 2001ish Cougar alloys on my 1992 Tempo LX (not the ones with the cougar head logo), 2001 Focus alloys on my 1993 Tempo, Sable LS basketweaves on my 1988 Taurus L, and I could go on. I really enjoy the look, and it usually matches quite well.

    • 0 avatar
      kefkafloyd

      Corvette C5, Z06, or C6 wheels look great on Camaros and Firebirds.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Some aftermarket items can look good; others can go seriously overboard. Still, everybody needs the ability to personalize their vehicle the way they want, especially since today’s cars are so generic and bland in appearance. Even my rather plain Ford Ranger only came with minimal chrome and a single, narrow, colored tape stripe on an Oxford White paint job. While I haven’t done anything drastic, I added a custom graphic to the rear quarters that include a factory-stripe-matching teal and brown stripe over the wheel arches. Subtle but very individual, yet doesn’t change the overall look of the truck in the least. I have some other ideas for the future that may include a full paint job to cover that stark white. Again, nothing excessive but expanding on the original trim stripe colors of dark metallic brown and teal.

    Of course, that assumes I keep the truck. I just cracked 25K miles on it and the little engine seems to be gaining horsepower the longer I drive it. (Picked it up with just shy of 20K at 18 years old, two years ago.)

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    2011-2014 Mustangs can be aesthetically enhanced by door scoops.

    C7 stingrays come with cheap thin floor mats. For a little over $100 one can add beautiful plush floor mats and hatch Matt (another $100) with stingray logo or corvette logo.

  • avatar
    arach

    I say BRING ON THE AFTERMARKETS.

    You know what makes a fiero look better? A full body kit and side skirts.
    Know what makes a jeep look better? Big wheels, a lift kit, a Winch, and some offroad lights.
    Know what makes a truck look better? tonneau covers, bed liner, cab lights, and window tint.
    Give me angel eyes and louvers on your camaro, and add some rally stripes down the middle.

    Be original. Be unique. Have some fun with your ride so it doesn’t look like everyone elses.

    I never understood the “hate” for people doing mods that you don’t “like”. Guess what, your brown station wagon disgusts me!

    I like when people do their thing, whether its classy or not. Its their style, and I like when people show off their style AS LONG AS they aren’t creating new dangers or hazards for others on the road.

    Plus despite some people calling things “rice” or “distasteful”, I often like the flashier cars. You can’t please everyone, so at least please yourself.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I will say that customizing trucks as you mentioned usually looks fine to me.

      And I agree with you on principle, people should do what makes them happy. We don’t have to like it, but so long as they didn’t spend our money to do it, who can really complain?

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Tasteful and/or utilitarian: Window tinting (not too dark and not on the windshield), although most cars now come with some form of tinting standard. Mudflaps that are not to large or carry political statements. Bug deflectors, mostly to reduce paint chips. Non-rusting license plate holder screws/bolts. All weather floor mats.

    Things that I like but may not be popular/tasteful: Custom or upgraded shift knob. Whitewalls on period suitable cars. A ‘continental’ spare tire treatment like in the picture. Just lovely on a PLC like a Cordoba or on a late 1950’s cruiser!

    Things that I do not like: Painted or decal flames. Wacky Woodpecker. Pop-up aftermarket sunroofs. Belching/too loud exhausts on 4 cylinder cars. The awful and sometimes destructive paint jobs and ‘customizing’ inflicted on classic cars by Counts Kustoms on his TV show.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Playboy mud flaps.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    The only aftermarket addition to any of my cars is largely invisible. I replaced the ugly front fender sidemarkers on my 328i with body color inserts. They server no purpose on a car that has turn signal repeaters that are always lit when the lights are on, AND headlight side reflectors. The car also has mudguards, but those are a factory accessory so I don’t think that counts.

    I guess technically my Golf has a trailer hitch which is aftermarket, but it barely shows. The two Brits are factory other than the Spitfire has period-correct faux Minilite wheels on it.

    So I would say my tolerance for such things is pretty low.

  • avatar
    bubbajet

    Good:
    Slight lift/lower or (better) leveling for light trucks. Most new 250/2500 class need not apply.
    Legal window tint. Sorry, you don’t need limo tint.
    Simple aftermarket rims, rarely. Usually this doesn’t work out so well.
    Light aftermarket exhaust.

    One of the best trucks I’ve ever seen was slightly lowered, perfectly leveled, dish rims, and had the side mirrors and door handles removed. Single-color charcoal gray Imron paint. Simple. Beautiful.

    Bad:
    Wings. No, you aren’t going to go that fast. Ever.
    Low profile tires on trucks. The common 55s look OK, unless it’s on a 250/2500 class. It’s a truck.
    Huge rims.
    Rims that are wider than the tires.
    Underbody lights (OK in the parking lot/car meet I suppose).
    Aftermarket headlights.
    Darkened taillights. They’re that bright for a reason.
    Highly jacked up trucks.
    Lowering the back of your truck (or car) more than the front. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
    Rolling coal.
    Limo tint.
    Reflective/mirror tint.
    Stickers proclaiming every aftermarket product you’ve bought, ever.
    Wheels that stick out from the wheel wells, particularly on cars. Occasionally OK on trucks if it’s VERY small.
    Ridiculously loud aftermarket exhaust. I should be able to hear what I’m listening to while driving next to you.
    Ridiculously loud stereos. See above. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

    At the end of the day, this is frequently like pornography. Tough to describe, but I know it when I see it. My son has the best description of the over-wrought car/truck: “…looks like he/she got the high school package.” You’ve seen it.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    Anything actually functional and (presumptively) used, like the mentioned light bar on a truck, is good.

    (That said, that’s my personal taste.

    You do you, rice-rocket kid that wants an entire catalog of junk on his Civic!

    As long as it doesn’t fall off into traffic, live that dream.)

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    (Also, I kinda want, someday, to completely mix-and-match a vehicle.

    Car from brand A, rebadge as a model from brand B with brand C’s marque badge, and additional badging from two more!

    Hoist the black flag and slit some throats! No rules!)

  • avatar

    Bad: Eyelashes for your VW bug *mic drop*

  • avatar
    Johnster

    I like tasteful aftermarket wheels and louvers for rear windows on Fastbacks. I even like the louvers on the rear side windows of Mustang Fastbacks and think they could work on other fastbacks. I also like tasteful blackout trim replacing chrome. Splash guards and, on pickups, “Big Sky” mudflaps.

    I also like aftermarket bumper rub strips, bumper guards and rubber license plate frames (which function like bumper guards), given the current state flimsy bumpers on virtually all new cars.

  • avatar
    joeb-z

    My 2005 Subaru Legacy GT wagon has JDM Bilstein struts so the rear sports a JDM Bilstein badge. An inside joke and perhaps not after market but I like it.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • jkross22: You can get an A4 with a manual transmission and Quattro. Just no V6.
  • jkross22: The problem is the Fusion Sport was overpriced to begin with. Fusion is a rental car. It’s a good...
  • ixim: That’s quite a nit to pick on fit and finish, judging by the pictures. I’ve had three ‘Nox’s – 013, 016,...
  • VW4motion: This tow truck company is just perfecting the “art of the deal” business model.
  • Lorenzo: Those beat GM’s unofficial slogan: “Still running *badly* long after a beemer hits the...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States